Monday, April 16, 2012 at 8:04 am
"Can you imagine seeing your life's work raided and seized?" Lee asked in a telephone interview. "Many patients like me can."
At age 27, while working as a lighting technician, Lee fell off a scaffold and broke his back. A paraplegic, he must now use a wheelchair. Standard prescription pills didn't ease the pain, but medical cannabis did.
On April 2, the DEA, IRS, and U.S. Marshals raided Richard Lee's famed cannabis trade school, Oaksterdam University, in Oakland, California. Since opening in 2007, Oaksterdam has provided cannabis industry training to about 15,000 experts and activists, and is fully compliant with state and local law.
Although Lee was detained during the raid, he was not arrested, but still fears prosecution.
Because of prohibition, a conviction involving cannabis can result not only in jail time, but also in the denial of federal benefits such as college loans, public housing and professional licenses.
"Medical cannabis prohibition is unjust and counterproductive," Lee said. "Because I believe what I have done is moral and ethical, I am standing up for my rights: My right to use medical cannabis to alleviate my suffering; my right to be free of discrimination and interference from the state with regard to my use; my right to access goods and services to enable my use.
"In short," Lee said, "I'm standing up for my rights by endorsing the Ohio Medical Cannabis Amendment."
Lee noted that the U.S. Justice Department may well have had a much more difficult time targeting him if he and his school had been protected by a similar amendment in California.
The Ohio Medical Cannabis Amendment is a proposed citizen-initiated amendment to the Ohio Constitution, slated for the ballot in the fall of 2012. It focuses on extending to patients eight rights based on the Bill of Rights within the Ohio Constitution.
The amendment also establishes an Ohio Commission of Cannabis Control to not only support, uphold and defend these rights, but also to regulate medical cannabis in Ohio.
Getting the OMCA on ballot will require the collection of 385,000-plus signatures by July 4, 2012. Thousands of people have contacted the campaign to help and securing funding for a complementary paid signature effort is the only obstacle left in getting on the ballot this year.
"Imagine election day 2012," Lee said. "All eyes are trained on Ohio - a perennial swing state during a high profile presidential race. Five million voters affirm the right to use cannabis as medicine. This may represent one of the strongest statements that cannabis reform has ever had the opportunity to make.
"I ask all Ohioans and reformers to stand with me, stand together and stand up for the right to use cannabis as medicine," Lee said. "Support the Ohio Medical Cannabis Amendment and help get it on the ballot in the fall." CONTINUE READING…